Writer: Samuel George London Art: Mikael Hankonen Publisher: Signal Comics
WHAT IS IT?
This is the second story in a trilogy about two people from Victorian England coming face to face with alien life and technology.
This middle installment is the most "science fiction" of the two published issues, and has a definite Doctor Who sense to it.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Alfie and Mary escaped danger and boarded an alien craft destined to take them on their next great adventure, somewhere in space.
But the two are still recovering from the events they just went through, and seeing space and aliens and strange technology for the first time can be overwhelming.
Plus, are they prepared for what actually awaits them on this strange, alien destination? All they know is they have to protect this piece of alien technology. But from what? Who needs it? And what will happen if they don't get it?
Or, perhaps more importantly, what will these aliens do in order to get it back?
Beyond Milford Green starts exactly as it should – Alfie and Mary on the alien craft, unsure of where they're going. We get Mary's delayed reaction to the events of the previous issue; with a second to breathe, she can finally reckon with her father's death and the dissolution of her relationship. It feels natural and authentic and also helps catch us up on character names and plot points we haven’t seen in a while.
Mikael Hankonen continues to cover all art, color and lettering, and the book is better for it. The colors are rich and vivid, the balloons maintain their style and sound effects their organic and hand-drawn texture, and the universe and alien world are brought to life through ornate and pristine line art.
I'm a fan of how much Hankonen uses balloon and tail shape and texture to convey tone. The rectangular shape works well for the fantasy and sci-fi genres (but for different reasons) and that use of texture feels natural and you just get it without having to think about it.
Splash pages are especially impressive, used to show the beauty and enormity of space, the gravity of a single moment, or the detailed environment when setting a scene.
Another characteristic of the comic's quality is its color. This issue is very different from the previous one's more grounded palette. The greens and purples contrast against it and each other, wild, glowing, and alien. This pauses a bit after they reach their destination, and we see Hankonen play with alabaster and earth tones, juxtaposing the scenes' warmth with colder greens and black in the pages that follow.
Even though we've left Victorian England behind, we don't lose the detailed environments, clothing and character design we saw in the first issue, which is a relief, because it's part of what makes this comic feel so high-quality.
Meeting Rongara and watching his character develop was a delight that contrasts against one of the "What Doesn't Work" bullets below. A single issue can't develop every single character, but issue #2 chooses to focus on this one, and we get an especially poignant and unexpectedly emotional flashback to his past the helps the audience warm to him considerably.
Though the general mood of the comic is "lighthearted sci-fi adventure," the "peace vs. warmongering" theme lends some real-world commentary to the narrative that I appreciated.
I'm a sucker for when a title gets used in dialogue, so when the title of the third issue is said at the end of this issue, it was a big "Hell Yeah!" moment. Plus, it sets up the third and final chapter's theme perfectly.
This issue is giant-sized – about half the length of an Image trade paperback, but has multiple covers and some bonus content in the back of the caliber you wish more comics had. It's well worth its price tag even for the printed version. For digital? It's a steal.
I'm not a Star Trek fan, though I hear there are some references in here for those who are!
WHAT DOESN'T WORK?
Because this title is set up as a trilogy of issues, the creative team accelerates the timeline for how events unravel. While this mostly works for the plot overall to keep things interesting, we lose some believability in a scene where (SPOILER ALERT) the high council sides with humans they just met over established members because of a video shown to them between panels. This issue of feeling rushed extends to character development in the villains (who seem a little one-note being based on hunger for power) and also in Alfie and Mary's relationship, which doesn't quite feel believable. Playing up the "will they/won't they" tension more before a much bigger payoff of them finally expressing their love maybe at the end of the third chapter.
The aliens' desire to take over Earth starting with Milford Green, even though the mysterious alien tech is in their hands now, feels spiteful but strategically unimportant. Like, there's no other reason for it unless there's something special about the town or the planet that we don't know yet.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
Beyond Milford Green isn't a sequel; it's a continuation of Milford Green, a natural successor to the first chapter. As such, it loses no steam or vision. It doesn't feel disjointed from the series. You're simply reading the second installment of a great and beautiful comic series.
Definitely worth your time! Especially if you're a fan of low-to-medium-stakes sci-fi adventures with fantasy and love story elements.
WHAT DO I READ NEXT?
If you like the writing:
Project Hoax by Samuel George London & Dan Butcher
Angelic, Vol. 1 by Si Spurrier & Caspar Wijngaard
Megatomic Battle Rabbit by Stu Perrins & Israel Huertas
If you like the art:
Milford Green by Samuel George London & Mikael Hankonen
Year in Hereafter by Mikael Hankonen
Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe & various artists
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Samuel George London – Writer
When he was 21, he walked the length of Great Britain from Lands End to John O' Groats for Cancer Research UK (a journey of 1,000 miles that took 2 months to complete!)
Runs the comics publisher Signal Comics and hosts the Comics for the Apocalypse podcast
Mikael Hankonen – Artist, Colorist & Letterer
Outlander: Hails from Finland
Also studied cinema and video games
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